Five exercises to make those abs pop

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image Contributing blogger Troy Meyers is a certified personal trainer and sports conditioner with more than 10 years of experience. He owns Atlanta-based and contributes to the site’s Lockerroom Blog.

You want better abs, don’t you? Strength training is the best way to get there.

If you’re dropping weight, there’s nothing quite like ab muscle to highlight a new, leaner midsection. Although some people have more muscle building potential than others, there are some basic strength exercises to best address the major midsection muscles.

imageMachine Abdominal Curl
Performed properly, this exercise effectively isolates the front abdominal muscle (rectus abdominis) and permits a progressive increase in resistance to maximize strength development.

Machine Rotary Torso
This exercise targets the oblique muscles on both sides of the midsection. Rotating your torso to the right uses the right internal and left external oblique muscles. Rotating your torso to the left uses the left internal and right external oblique muscles.

The rectus abdominis muscle is also involved in both movements, making this an excellent exercise for overall midsection conditioning.
If you do not have access to resistance machines, you can try a combination of bodyweight exercises performed with as little rest as possible between segments.

Basic Trunk Curl
This is the standard abdominal exercise and it works well when performed in a slow and controlled manner. Place your hands loosely behind your head to maintain a neutral neck position and slowly curl your upper back off the floor until your abdominal muscles are fully contracted.

Each repetition should be completed in about six seconds (three seconds up and three seconds down), so that 10 reps require about one minute of continuous abdominal work.

imageReverse Trunk Curl
This more difficult movement is performed by keeping your upper back on the floor, bending your knees with your feet in the air and slowly pressing your lower back into the floor. Like the basic trunk curl, 10 properly performed repetitions should take about 60 seconds.

This is the most demanding exercise in the sequence as it involves the rectus abdominis, internal obliques, external obliques and hip flexor muscles. Begin by doing a basic trunk curl and remaining in the top position. Lift both knees so that both feet are off the floor.

Bring your left knee backwards and try to touch it with your right elbow as you extend your right leg forward. Reverse this procedure by bringing your right knee backward and trying to touch it with your left elbow as you extend your left leg forward.

Alternate this push-pull, trunk-twisting action at a slow movement speed for about one minute.

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